This is a follow up story for ShipDaddy. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 1 year ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started
Greetings, fellow entrepreneurs. My name is Joe Spisak, co-owner of ShipDaddy and along with co-owners, Trent Bond and the ShipDaddy himself, Brady Farrell, we own and operate an eCommerce Fulfillment company. ShipDaddy is the industry leader in flexible fulfillment. We pride ourselves in becoming a business partner to our eCommerce customers - not just another fulfillment center. From picking, packing, and shipping, to inventory management, ShipDaddy does it all, and more (but we’ll get to that later). Our customers are diverse in size, product, geography, and longevity, and we ship just about anything!
We’ve been in business since late 2019 and have been thrilled with our rapid growth and customer retention. Recently, we purchased a 140,000 square foot facility, rags to riches Cinderella story, as just a year ago we were in an 800 square foot, bathroomless, garage. But more to come on that story!
Busting at the seams in our 10,000 sq foot temporary home
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Since we last talked, ShipDaddy has not only outgrown its 800 square foot humble beginnings, but we’ve also maxed out our 10,000 square foot warehouse space with the rapid growth of customer acquisition and the need for additional employees. The process of finding our ideal next facility was a tricky one as we began to understand our true needs:
- Room to grow, exponential growth - We realized that big goal setting needs big space so we focused on 75,000+ square foot spaces to accommodate our growing customer base, our growing staff, and adequate space for the think-tank workers pioneering ahead of operations.
- The property we own - Renting just didn’t seem necessary or fiscally responsible with this size of the facility so we decided to purchase a space. Of course, this factor made matters a bit more complex with funding acquisition, contract language, insurance, and inspections, just to name a few.
- Community connections - We committed to ourselves that we wanted to embed the business in a community and become a contributing part of its culture. We were looking for a “flagship home base” kind of place where we could support youth sports, partner with economic development in the area, and make a real difference in the lives of those around us.
The process of solving our physical space growing pains became an inhibiting factor in customer acquisition growth mostly because of the nature of our “partner relationships approach” and company’s mission statement (see below), we were committed to unparalleled customer service to our current customers before onboarding additional partners. A sample of our support;
Space and staff were tight, so we became creative with our resources and worked some pretty long days. Lots of take-out food and other morale-boosting protocol kept us on our A-game until we acquired our bigger and better facility. Reflecting, I am proud to say that we served our customers and honored our commitment to excellence through the transition.
“ShipDaddy’s Mission: ShipDaddy is the industry leader in flexible fulfillment. Customer service is our business and teamwork is our trademark.”
In our 140,000 square foot flagship facility located in Newville, Pennsylvania, we have found a community-based workplace with plenty of room to grow. We look forward to renovating the building, refreshing its exterior, and embedding ourselves in the community, big plans in this area. We have currently grown to 20 employees and are proud to support a robust college internship program with local universities.
Check out our new facility here:
Left to Right: Pat, our operations specialist… the main man on the floor, and co-owners Joe, Brady (the ShipDaddy), and Trent
One exciting vehicle that has been instrumental in driving our growth is the Google Incubator Program. For those readers not familiar with this opportunity, acceptance into Google’s Incubator Program is by selection only and is designed to support and grow progressive start-up businesses in high-growth fields which demonstrate strong potential for success. We were accepted into the program at the beginning of 2021 and became heavily involved with this initiative once we were settled into our new facility.
Google Incubator Program is a six-month commitment during which time a business is assigned two Google supports, an account strategist and a technical architect. The account strategist works with our team to develop ShipDaddy’s paid advertising strategy utilizing search ads, display ads, and YouTube ads. The technical architect helps ShipDaddy to actually build out the prescribed strategies on the Google ads platform and then to monitor results through Google analytics.
Participation in the program is robust and time-consuming, but we have experienced more than 1000% growth in lead submissions on our website in just 8 weeks. Our marketing team’s technical knowledge has grown immensely from the inside perspective of our Google support partners, as well.
Google will use matrices to determine participants’ successful completion of the program. Graduation from the program is contingent upon reaching the established goals of committed ad spend with Google during the six-month period. Upon successful graduation, a participating company is assigned a dedicated and permanent Google staff member to aid the team in developing weekly strategy and build-out sessions for paid customer acquisition. ShipDaddy is on pace to graduate with flying colors and is honored and excited for this opportunity.
As a supplement to our paid advertising strategies, in-house content creation has greatly supplemented our growth and helped us to develop our brand identity. This content is a team effort and executed by our creative and talented media specialist, Benjamin. This has been and will always be a secret sauce to our recipe for success in driving organic growth.
Havin’ some fun with the gang:
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Entrepreneurship is not a new business concept by any means, but a more millennial implication of the word includes “transforming the world by solving big problems while taking on additional challenges and financial risk”. The challenges for ShipDaddy and our leadership team often orbit around the capital to maintain, grow, and achieve. We have gone through pushing our personal financial chips in for the sake of growth; working long hours to meet deadlines until we were able to fund a growing payroll; embracing creative financing and relationship building with financial entities to attain capital, and delaying personal reward or compensation to ensure the business was financially healthy. We knew this would be an area of a challenge as a start-up business but the sacrifice and complexity of matters of money require a risk-taker mentality for sure.
For many, the year of COVID-19 has brought on unprecedented hardships. But for obvious reasons, eCommerce has flourished during this unfortunate time because it brought an element of safety and accessibility to buying and selling that everyone needs and appreciates. Our eCommerce customers needed our customer-first, flexible approach to 3PL now more than ever, and we learned the true value of treating our customers like partners during this challenging time.
The debt you incur needs to be in balance with the profit you reap. And don’t forget the big one, work/life balance. You’ve got to embrace the journey.
And then, there are the unexpected mishaps that feel major at the time but turn out to be just a bump in the road, (as evidenced in the photo of our truck on day 2 of ownership).
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Growth is my favorite topic, for sure. Our goal is to fill our 140,000 sq ft facility and increase our ShipDaddy team to 100 employees by the end of 2022. We also plan to enhance existing services and expand service to our customers. ShipDaddy offers customization through product inserts, specialized packaging, and apparel detailing. We will utilize robust advertisement of our services to customers and improvement of current offerings by bringing it all in-house as these add-on services are what really set us apart as a 3PL partner of choice. It is our goal to exist seamlessly behind the scenes for our customers while making their production to customer process expedient, effortless, and excellent.
Over the next few years, we will continue to build and evolve ShipDaddy’s robust online presence. Our goal is to utilize ShipDaddy’s e-platforms to not only attract and retain customers but also to serve as an eCommerce tool, a collaborative forum, and an expression of our mission and its impact on our community, customers, and the world of eCommerce.
We are very excited about the opportunity to partner with universities and other teaching institutions to grow the next generation of entrepreneurs and logistics professionals, as well.
A five-year plan should be ambitious, thoughtful, and the focal point of all actions and decisions, right? Our five-year plan is a path to become the industry leader in eCommerce fulfillment for companies that need a more personalized fulfillment 3PL partner. Excellence in our field drives all aspects of our five-year plan.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I have been reading or listening to anything I can get my hands on related to eCommerce. One of the most interesting reads for me is the blog posts of our customers.
Learning about their journeys to eCommerce success and more about their products has helped ShipDaddy to be a better partner.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
The advice can sound cliche but have lived through these first few years of an entrepreneurial start-up, I firmly believe the following advice is worthy of note:
Don’t get down on yourself for trying new things and experiencing “failure”. Some things we have attempted failed but from each failure, we learned so much that we could then apply to future ventures. With this piece of advice, I encourage the reader to build in reflection time, particularly after something doesn’t work out as you will be able to find those gold nuggets of wisdom. You may even be surprised by your own knowledge!
Don’t be afraid to admit to yourself and others what you don’t know. Asking others around you for information, clarification, and advice is the best way to learn.
Recognize the “business physics” of balance. That is the time you invest needs to be proportionate to the outcome you desire. The debt you incur needs to be in balance with the profit you reap. And don’t forget the big one, work/life balance. You’ve got to embrace the journey.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
ShipDaddy is always hiring, there’s always room for another great teammate. We are hiring for our operations team right now! Uniquely, our warehouse staff has a great opportunity to become fully immersed in picking and packing, shipping, customer service, and other areas of professional growth related to warehouse operations.
And as you may remember from our first interview, some ShipDaddy team members have developed successful eCommerce brands in-house. We are always interested in hiring hungry entrepreneurs with innovative ideas as we are looking to invest in brands in need of capital and experience from others trekking the same path.
As stated earlier, our mission statement and growth model also support internships, we are open-minded to apprenticeship work as it is the best way to grow your skills in such a cutting-edge field.
Where can we go to learn more?
Check us out using the links below. And like us! We’ll like you back :)
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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